New Washington coach Chris Petersen raised a lot of eyebrows when he told a local radio station late last week he anticipated this class would "finish strong." After he was hired, many Huskies fans were worried Petersen and his staff wouldn't be able to recruit with the big boys of the Pac-12, as a number of top targets were on the brink of heading elsewhere. But Petersen got to work right away, and all signs now point toward Washington closing as strongly as anybody in the conference. The Huskies landed Bishard Baker, the No. 7 safety out of Bellevue (Wash.) High, on signing day eve, and they could also get about five more players on Wednesday. Getting Baker, who at one point seemed like a lock for UCLA, would be a huge get for Petersen because he's a Seattle guy, and it would mean he protected his home turf against a very good UCLA recruiting staff.
Few recruits have kept people in suspense like Braden Smith, the four-star offensive guard from Olathe (Kan.) South. Smith, the No. 9 offensive guard, hasn't kept people in the dark on purpose. It's not his style to give detailed reports on his top schools, so there is certainly some mystery about whom he signs with Wednesday. The projection here is that Smith signs with Auburn, picking it over TCU and Texas A&M. Smith and his family have talked to Auburn's track coaches about allowing his sister, Megan, to use their facilities after she graduates from TCU in preparation for international competitions in the shot put and discus. In the end, that -- and playing for a school that has immediate holes to fill along the offensive line -- will make the difference.
With great recruiters like Jimbo Fisher and Tim Brewster leading the way and the Seminoles red-hot after winning the national championship, Florida State is primed to make some major noise on signing day. It's almost a given the Noles will land Ermon Lane, the nation's No. 2 receiver out of Homestead (Fla.) High, so that's really not a shocker. The Noles are on the final lists of No. 1 receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and No. 6 defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), though, and conventional wisdom says Dupre signs with LSU and Thomas sticks with Miami. But don't rule out something big happening with either. The most obvious candidate to flip is four-star athlete Ja'Von Harrison (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen). Harrison has been a longtime Virginia Tech commitment, but it's always hard for out-of-state schools to hold on to commits when an in-state team like Florida State makes a push before signing day. Don't rule out FSU with Malik McDowell, the No. 5 defensive tackle from Detroit Loyola, either.